DETROIT -- Brennan Boesch didn't make a big deal of batting fifth in the Tigers lineup when he did it for 93 games two years ago. It's just the spot where he happened to bat, even if it meant hitting right behind Miguel Cabrera.
Now that Boesch is batting fifth again, this time behind Cabrera and Prince Fielder, he isn't making a big deal about it, either. Boesch's numbers this time seem to back that up.
"I really don't place a lot of emphasis on it," Boesch said. "Prince is obviously one of the most feared hitters in the game, so hitting behind him, it's a challenge, because obviously pitchers are going to be pretty careful pitching to Prince. You're going to probably come up in a lot of key situations. But in this lineup, I'd be happy to hit anywhere, really."
Boesch is 6-for-16 in the fifth spot since manager Jim Leyland flipped him and Delmon Young in the batting order against most right-handed starters.
"Wherever you're hitting, it's just what your role is at that time," Boesch said. "Being moved around, I don't place a lot of emphasis on it."
Boesch began the season batting second, in front of Cabrera and Fielder, before his struggles there prompted Leyland to move him down. He has batted everywhere from fifth to eighth since.
Down on pitch counts, Leyland trusts ace's arm
DETROIT -- Tigers ace Justin Verlander struck out 14 Yankees in Monday night's 7-2 win and matched a regular-season career high with 132 pitches in the process. That pitch total is unheard of for most pitchers, but Verlander isn't most pitchers. And that's why manager Jim Leyland wasn't at all worried the following day.
"If the truth be known, if there wasn't so much made about it, he could throw 130 pitches every time," Leyland told the media on Tuesday afternoon. "It's a walk in the park for him. ... When you've got his type of arm, that's a piece of cake for him."
In fact, Leyland believes about 120 pitches is a "piece of cake" for any pitcher, and he said it should be -- even younger guys.
"[Rick] Porcello could throw 120 pitches without any problem," Leyland said of the 23-year-old right-hander. "Everybody makes a big deal about it."
Leyland spoke at length about pitch counts in general prior to Tuesday's game against the Yankees. He said that throwing 110 pitches isn't necessarily the same from one pitcher to another -- an argument he commonly makes when discussing Verlander.
Leyland also said the game has changed and that pitch counts are now blown out of proportion.
"Nobody ever thought that the pitch count would become a big thing," Leyland said. "That's a hot topic all of a sudden. It was never a hot topic. All of a sudden, it became a hot topic when agents and big contracts came into play, if you want to know the truth."
Still, Leyland isn't one to overwork a pitcher.
"We're a little nervous about [injuries]," Leyland said. "To be honest, I would never abuse any pitcher. You take a guy like Verlander, that's a pretty big investment for the Tigers -- and the kid's future."
So you won't see Verlander's pitch count ever reach 140 or 150.
"I think Justin Verlander could throw 140 pitches, and I don't think it would bother him one bit -- I truly believe that," Leyland said. "I wouldn't do it."
Alburquerque hitting his spots with Toledo
DETROIT -- Right-hander Al Alburquerque continued his rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo on Monday night, allowing a run on two hits with three strikeouts -- all swinging -- and a hit batsman over 1 1/3 innings at Louisville.
It was the second rehab appearance with the Mud Hens for Alburquerque, who struck out the only batter he faced on Saturday night against Rochester.
Alburquerque stretched his arm out to 29 pitches in Monday's outing. Just as importantly, he threw 22 of those pitches for strikes, an outstanding ratio for him. The run he allowed came on a Willie Harris home run with two outs in the sixth inning.
Alburquerque left with the bases loaded in the seventh inning after hitting a batter. Luis Marte left them loaded by getting back-to-back flyouts.
Miggy stays true to swing with two strikes
DETROIT -- With Monday's 454-foot drive into the center-field shrubs, Miguel Cabrera has as many home runs on 0-2 counts (three) as he does on 3-1 counts, and more than he does on full counts (one).
However, Cabrera has just eight hits all season on 0-2 pitches. The fact that he has three doubles and three homers out of those eight hits means he's at least making the most of what he gets when he's behind in the count. In fact, he has almost as many hits as strikeouts (10) when he's down, 0-2.
Those are the nuggets to be seen in Cabrera's batting splits for the season. They don't necessarily reveal any particular strategy, but they show that even in situations when most hitters would be shortening swings or fouling off pitches, Cabrera is a different kind of player.
One would figure that Cabrera would be looking for a simple hit when he gets to two strikes. And to be fair, out of his 14 hits on 1-2 counts, just six have gone for extra bases, all of them doubles. His 0-2 pitch from Ivan Nova on Monday, however, was low and over the strike zone, right where he can extend his arms and drive the ball.
The Tigers announced Tuesday that they've released left-hander Fu-Te Ni, ending a four-year tenure in the organization that began with a flourish in 2009 as a lefty reliever in Detroit's bullpen. Ni hasn't appeared in the big leagues since '10, when he struggled in the bullpen for the first half of the season. He spent most of this season on the disabled list with Toledo, having undergone season-ending left elbow surgery, according to the Toledo Blade.
Young was sent on a hit-and-run play when he was caught stealing at second base in the fifth inning on Monday. He took off on the first pitch to Alex Avila, right after Young's leadoff single.
"I'm very glad that I put that play on," Leyland said. "I'm not happy it didn't work, but I'm glad I put that play on. Fans, they see the results of the play, and if you put on a squeeze and it works, great. If you put a squeeze on and it doesn't work, you're an idiot. Well, I don't look at it like that. I look at it like, you make decisions as a manager. Sometimes they don't work out. It doesn't mean you made a bad decision."
There aren't many quirks in the Comerica Park outfield wall, but one exists in right-center field, where the dimensions abruptly go from 365 feet in the power alley to closer to 400 feet around the out-of-town scoreboard. Boesch maneuvered it on Monday night to make a nice catch on Mark Teixeira's drive to deep right-center.
"It's like a Bermuda Triangle type thing," Boesch said, "but there's a lot of space, so it's nice."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.